Political scheme stripped from No. 98 car
July 04, 2014, Holly Cain, NASCAR.com
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DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- Deciding it was just better to not appear involved with the state of Florida gubernatorial campaign, Phil Parsons Racing has removed the "Charlie Crist for Florida" paint scheme from the hood of its No. 98 Ford for Sunday's Coke Zero 400 at Daytona International Speedway. The team instead will carry a tribute to Richard Petty's historic 200th win coming in this race 30 years ago.
The Florida Republican Party filed a complaint with the state elections committee questioning the legality of the Crist logo, saying its value on a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series car hood violated the allowable $3,000 contribution. The Crist campaign told The Miami Herald this week that because a political committee separate from the campaign donated the money -- and the word "governor" wasn't used -- there was no issue. Crist is a Democrat vying to unseat Republican Gov. Rick Scott.
Parsons, however, said the decision to replace the paint scheme was in deference to his partner Mike Curb, a former California Republican lieutenant governor, and the Petty tribute was the perfect idea considering Curb owned the car Petty drove to the 200th victory on July 4, 1984.
"I was totally surprised and shocked that there was such a firestorm," Parsons said Friday. "It wasn't a political statement on our behalf, we're just trying to keep the doors open and race.
"One of our biggest supporters since we started this team is Mike Curb, and he's been a staunch Republican, he was just uncomfortable being in the middle of this firestorm, even though he had nothing to do with it. So out of respect to him, we decided to take the Crist stickers off."
Curb's record label, Curb Records, will be on the car highlighting its artist Lee Brice -- who will play the pre-race concert Saturday -- and commemorating Petty's big win.
Both Crist (the 2009 Daytona 500 grand marshal) and Gov. Scott are scheduled to attend Saturday's Coke Zero 400.